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Posted by moonhead on Feb 7, 2008
Burnout Paradise Xbox 360 / Criterion / EA

Burnout Paradise Xbox 360 / Criterion / EA

Since the Burnout series of racing games crashed onto the scene on the last generation of consoles it has always been the King of the arcade racer. With this latest addition, the first built entirely for the new consoles from the ground up will it retain its arcade racer crown?

Criterion have always tried to evolve the series with each game playing markedly different from its predecessor, although retaining the series ethos of high speed thrills and massive crashes. This in turn though has lost and gained fans of the series with each iteration (this is the 5th) I for one though have owned a copy of every version of the series on various formats and have loved every one of them. So does Burnout Paradise live up to its heritage? Let’s find out.

So whats new about Burnout Paradise then, well the clue is in the name. The game is based solely in the fictional Paradise City a totally free roaming game world where there are no set tracks, loading or menu screens to be found anywhere. The whole of Paradise City is a vehicle based playground yours to drive round at your will. Every road junction is the gateway to the various events, all the usual series game types make it in such as your straight forward Race to Road Rage, Burning Route and Stunt Runs. There is also a new game type called Marked Man where you have to get from point A to B whilst your competitors try to take you out. Make it without taking a critical amount of damage and you win. All of the events have one thing in common and that is that the route you take is entirely up to you and with 65 streets and hundreds of jumps and shortcuts it is a lot of fun figuring out the best route. Also each of the 65 streets has its own online and offline time record and Showtime score.

Speaking of Showtime, this mode has now replaced the traditional Crash Junctions and instead gives a whole street to wreak carnage upon to spectacular effect and rack up those big scores.

The game initially starts you at one of Paradise City’s Junk Yard’s which act as your personal garages, these are dotted around the map. The car you start in is a little worse for wear so you are advised by the games overseer and guide DJ Atomika, (We will come back to him later on!) to find the nearest Repair garage which is handily shown in the bottom left corner on your mini map. Once you find it you drive through it and your car is miraculously repaired no stopping or waiting you just drive through. Also on the map you will find Petrol stations and if you drive through these they fully charge your Burnout bar. It can  all be a bit confusing initially and the map seems a little bare. But as you drive round and discover places they are automatically added to your map. The mini maps functionality could have been better but it just about serves its purpose.

To take part in one of the many events you just pull up to one of the aforementioned junctions and pull both triggers and its game on. Sending you into a new game mode similar to entering a lobby without actually having to do so, nice!
To enter the online side of the game you just move your direction pad to the right and your Friends list pops up, send out your invites and your friends cars will then all appear on your map and off you go. All of the single player junction events are then replaced by a wealth of multi-player games. It is just all so seamless and easy that you will begin to wonder why we ever needed menus in the first place. The online game also utilises the Xbox Vision Camera in the Game Face feature which allows you to see the misery on your friends faces when you take him or her down.

In all Paradise City is one hell of a coding achievement for Criterion especially as there is never a lack of things to do. Outside of the events there is the Power Parking sub game which has you trying to park between to parked cars at breakneck speeds with just your hand brake, Shutdowns which have you smashing nominated vehicles off of the road which you can then drive around and then there are all the shortcuts and 50 Super Jumps to be found. And you get all of this in one of the most seamless worlds ever committed to disk.

The game also looks super sweet and it all moves at one hell of pace with no slow down or other problems. Burnouts famous crashes have been given the next-gen touch also and they look absolutely spectacular. The vehicle’s crumple and glass smashes all in full high definition glory, it really is a sight to behold.

By stark contrast the music is absolutely abhorrent it is nearly all American Rawk of the worst kind. There is always as usual one or two standout tracks “Adam and the Ants Stand and Deliver” comes to mind. I’m the dandy highway man indeed but when are EA going to get the eternally rubbish EA Trax right. There needs to be more variety in the music that caters for all tastes and not just pre-pubescent American teens. Add in uber cock DJ Atomika and the sound side of the game could test the patience of a saint. I do not know where they found DJ Atomika but please can we send him back there in a wooden box ASAP? I do suppose the saving grace is that he and the music can be turned down or preferably off but really we should be getting better than this.

Other minor irritations include that lack of being able to place a marker on the map so to try and find a particular event is a real chore. Also the mini map does not show enough detail and has you driving around in circles in the middle of a race. In a game world that can take 7 minutes to drive from one side to the other it is absolutely criminal that the map is not more user friendly and a  in fact really lets the game down. Another niggle is the lack of an event restart feature so if you loose a race to re-enter its a long drive back to the junction it started from providing you can find it that is. All of this does get better the more you learn the game world but making it easier to use would not have been that hard.

As a warning you should also know that if you buy the Xbox 360’s version of the game will not allow on line play without the hard drive. So if you own a core or arcade version of the game to play online you will need to buy the hard drive unit before you can. Criterion have said this is to insure a level playing field on the online side of the game as there will apparently be plenty of downloadable content available in the future for the title.

In all Burnout Paradise is still the best arcade racer to be found and it really is an impressive achievement. However if your interest in the Burnout series was already on the wane then you are not going to find anything new to reignite your interest in this game. On the other hand though if you still enjoy the high octane spills and thrills the series has always offered then you are going to love it, I know I do.

Overall Score 8 / 10

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One Response to “Burnout Paradise Xbox 360 / Criterion / EA”

  1. Billy says:

    that was amazing

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